Despite being the most decorated manager in English football history, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says that even he is not immune from the possibility of losing his job. Having just turned 69 on New Years eve and completed 24 years at Old Trafford, Ferguson believes that in this day and age when club owners and fans demand constant success, managers can never afford to relax, citing the recent sackings of Sam Allardyce at Blackburn and Newcastle’s Chris Hughton as examples.
Talking to The People Sir Alex confessed that “Nothing surprises me any more and if I was to lose a few games people would be doing the same to me – no doubt about it. Three or four years ago people thought my shelf life was up and I was out of the door. That’s the way it is today.” Sir Alex responded to his critics at that time by going on to lead United to three championships in a row
“You can’t get upset about these things. It happens and there’s nothing personal about it. It’s just the burden a manager has to carry these days, the responsibility of having to win games, and it has got worse in the last 10 or 15 years” he says “you have a more discerning public, owner and media.”
Sir Alex remembers the old days when “Chairmen like Louis Edwards would sit in his office with a cigar all day. He’d say ‘Good game, lads’ when we’d lost 6-5. ‘Well, it was a wonderful game, boys’. You just don’t have that anymore. It’s more of a results industry than it’s ever been.”
“Fortunately, I’m at the right club but I’d like to see the day when the press starts talking about sacking players when things aren’t going right. They never do because the agent would be on the phone right away” he warns “players should be judged the same way as managers but they aren’t and of course, it’s not fair. But managers are on their own and they take great credit with how they keep their dignity and their resilience.”
The current tightly fought Premiership race in which a number of clubs are putting up a strong challenge pleases Sir Alrx “It’s terrific. All the top teams have genuine chances but my experience is that it cuts down to two. It would be fantastic if it stayed the way it is – it would be a great league. I’d relish that” he said. “In the last five or six years it’s been ourselves and Chelsea and before that it was always Arsenal and us.”
“This year more teams have emerged because you’ve got Tottenham and Manchester City making good challenges. Hopefully we will be involved in that dogfight right up to the last kick and if we are then we’ve got the experience to win it.” Ferguson fully expects reigning champions Chelsea to make a strong challenge.
“We expected Chelsea would be the team to beat” he said “they’ve hit a bad bit of form which we all get, but maybe they’ve had that at a good time because they’ve still got three or four months ahead of them. We expected Arsenal to improve because they’ve got younger players and we expected them to get better. They will all be bang in there.”
The wily Ferguson is obviously being overly dramatic in order to drive home his point of how insecure a managers life has become. He knows full well that there is more chance of the Glazers donating their billion pound club to charity then there is of them ever showing him the Old Trafford door.
Has the pressure forced upon managers become unreasonable?